A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible object to represent a less tangible object or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels."

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Is it alright to mix metaphors?

An old Norfolk character I knew, used to say: 'Tha's no use you a-putten yar foot down, if you hearnt got a leg to stand on'. In English, that is: 'It's no good putting your foot down if you haven't a ...
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225 views

An analogy to describe an individual who merges traits he finds from others in order to develop his own identity? [closed]

I am writing a research paper in which my thesis concerns how a character matures through his merging of characteristic traits in his relationships with other characters. How can I introduce this ...
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140 views

Why is it “From Dublin to Los Angeles” in the Western world, that has left the church moribund in 20 century culture wars?

In connection with my previous question about the meaning of “the Church’s existential problem”, there was the following sentence in the same article of Time Magazine (December 11, 2013) — “Pope ...
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112 views

Inanimate life companion

This is gonna be pretty vague, but hopefully by listing examples, someone will understand what I'm grasping for. I'm searching for a metaphor to describe a tool, weapon, vehicle, set of techniques, ...
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8k views

Phrase for something that is always out or reach/you almost have but never can get

I believe there is a two-word phrase for something that is always just out of reach for you and which you cannot ever seem to get. (It is not Tantalus or anything having to do with Tantalus, please). ...
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96 views

Does this translation make sense? [closed]

I'm trying to translate a piece of my poem which is in Persian into English. I've so far come up with this: And what you see is a bewildering reflection of shadows, leaving the light lost on its ...
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255 views

Is “to have a perfect ear for music” a metaphor or a metonymy?

This phrase seems to be a metaphor to me, however I guess you could say "ear" might be referring to a concept of being able to make music well. Would you say it's a metaphor or metonymy?
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369 views

metaphor of “lily” and the meaning of “emerging from the mire”

I ran into this: "And you, Madame Lucrezia, flower of the Borgias, if a poet painted you as the catholic Messalina, a skeptical Gregorovious turned up and almost completely absolved you of that ...
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85 views

Metaphoric meaning of “racket”

How does the original meaning of racket lead to the following metaphoric meanings? an illegal or dishonest scheme for obtaining money a person’s line of business or way of life
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151 views

How would you characterize the phrase 'a more perfect union'? [closed]

My question pertains to the usage of 'a more perfect union' in its original context-- the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. I want to say that this is a metaphor, because the authors are using the ...
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What is the best way to describe someone who is very social in a party?

If a person is very social in a party, striking up conversations with different people from one end of the hall to the other end, are there some good expressions to describe this person? In Chinese, ...
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1answer
137 views

“Advice I wish I'd had ears to hear” — is this phrase in common use? Origins?

Productivity writer Merlin Mann often uses the phrase "ears to hear" on his podcast. An example from his writing: "a discursive mishmash of advice I wish I'd had the ears to hear in the year or ...
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95 views

Categorization of figures of speech

Is there a clear categorization of tropes? Some talk of the four master tropes (Metaphor, Synecdoche, Metonymy, Irony), Whereas some give An extended, unsorted list of tropes Some talk about the ...
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870 views

Using “might as well have been” in analogies

I've seen this phrase in many literary works. Does it have the same purpose as like, as if, and as though (in the context of similes/metaphors)? For example: She might as well have been a skinny ...
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170 views

“…Batman is the personality-shelf where Bruce Wayne stores the crazy-plates…” - is this just a metaphor, or is it something else?

In this article on Cracked.com, I discovered this gem of a phrase: ...Batman is the personality-shelf where Bruce Wayne stores the crazy-plates... ...and I thought it was a fantastic phrase. ...
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1k views

What does it mean 'to shoot oneself in the foot'?

In the First World War soldiers in the trenches on both sides would sometimes give themselves a non-fatal wound ( intentionally shooting themselves in the foot, whilst making it appear as an accident, ...
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1answer
85 views

Someone just told me that my business website structure should be “well-siloed”… what does that mean. [closed]

I know they're referencing a silo but i'm not understanding how it correlates/translates to business structure and presentation. are they talking about the function of the silo?
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Meaning of a mixed metaphor from “The Gift of The Magi”?

This is from The Gift of The Magi by O Henry (William Sydney Porter). Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. (part 4, paragraph 5 in the reference ...
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1k views

What is the origin & meaning of “It used to drive me spare”? [duplicate]

While watching the eponymous documentary on Stephen Hawking, his wife described her husband's behaviour when he was deep in thought. She said he could be surrounded by children and not even notice ...
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276 views

What does “Eat Lunch or be lunch” mean in this context?

I came across this phrase: The problem facing companies today is that there are too many fishermen and not enough fish in the market. It’s a matter of eat lunch or be lunch — or, as stated by ...
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Baseball metaphor, equivalent to 'lay your body on the line'

The English expression 'you need to be prepared to lay your body on the line' is a football metaphor, referring to the potentially painful act of lying down on the goal line to prevent a goal being ...
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1answer
196 views

Local color / color commentary

What are the origin and history of the phrases "local color" and "color commentary"? There is a tiny bit in the dictionaries about this use of color to mean 'additional detail and anecdotes' but not ...
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1answer
222 views

Can I use less-common technical terms metaphorically?

Can any technical term be used metaphorically? For instance, can I use the word assimilable which means capable of being absorbed and incorporated into body tissue (because it's broken down into a ...
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“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns"

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns" What does this metaphor mean and what is the origin? I know it is an ancient one, but couldn't find anything else! Is it obsolete ...
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216 views

What is a “Victorian audience”?

So I came across a sentence while reading the book On The Map: His[Eratosthenes’] world map was drawn in about 194 BC. No contemporary version exists, but the cartographer’s descriptions were ...
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What does “sock puppeting” mean?

I found a Meta Stack Overflow post in whose answer Servy says: it's sock puppeting and is a very serious violation "Sock puppeting" is a picture. But why a sock? Is it like playing with your own ...
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235 views

Finance metaphors for relationships [closed]

I've recently read that there are quite a few metaphors describing relationships between humans that are taken from the financial sector. However, examples were very scarce. On my list I have ...
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739 views

Where to use the word “tumbleweed”

What is the correct place to use the word tumbleweed? Can we use it as a metaphor for a person who always irritates us?
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1answer
200 views

Choosing a proper article or word for metaphor [closed]

I'm a breaking wave, because I can't get away from the sea called the world. I'm the breaking wave, because I can't get away from the sea called the world. Which article is proper for metaphor? The ...
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218 views

sow the seeds for (whence definite article? )

I have a quote from an article in The Economist: But they could re-establish a grip on large parts of the south and east of the country, give succour to al-Qaeda, and sow the seeds for a new ...
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Origin of “to have a cow”

The phrase "to have a cow" is defined as "to be very worried, upset, or angry about something" in Free Dictionary Online. Other sources also define it to mean to react very strongly and emotionally. ...
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224 views

What “a man who is happy to lie in the gutter, and watch while other climb mountain” is like?

In Jeffery Archer’s fiction, “The Fourth Estate,” there is a scene Keith Townsend, one of two heroes featured as the owner of the largest communication empire in Australia responds the questions fired ...
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627 views

Metaphor for an important discovery

"Joe Blogg's Damascus" can be used as a metaphor to denote a sudden turning point in attitude, behaviour or some other feature of Joe Blogg's life. What would be a similar metaphor for an important ...
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387 views

What metaphor can I use for a collection of notes/facts?

I'm trying to come up with a metaphor that represents a collection of facts/notes around one thing. I've tried "deck" and "notebook" but they don't really work. Any ideas?
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How different is “he is a voice of reason awakening the public” from “he has a voice of reason awakening the public”?

In association with the question on Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Senator Rand Paul in the Time Magazine article “2013 Time 100” that I posted earlier today, I have an additional question about the ...
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409 views

Proverb/Idiom for Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other? [duplicate]

I am looking for a figure of speech which means something vaguely like this: "Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other" Is there a proverb or phrase for this because I am not ...
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304 views

Phrase for someone taking over business when you skip for humanity

Is there a witty or general saying of indicating the act of taking over a business when a person, business or country skips an opportunity for general benevolence? Examples: If I don't sell weapons ...
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What do R-rated and X-rated mean here?

From a course website for Brownian Motion and Stochastic Calculus Recommended Reading: R-Rated Stochastic Differential Equations: An Introduction with Applications (6th edition) by B. ...
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Meaning of the phrase “I am all ears” [closed]

I was going through Stack Overflow and I noticed this phrase. I am all ears Is it some spelling error of "I am all yours" or does it mean something like "I am eager to listen"? What is meant by ...
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323 views

Origin of “Knee-jerk” [closed]

I like to read the Economist to keep my English up to date. And today, reading the following news I came across the above mentioned expression. Merriam Webster defines it as: reacting in a ...
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Phrase for overusing just-learned skills?

Is there a saying or word for indicating the overuse of something you just newly learned? Say you were happy with a hammer and a nail and then somebody taught you the virtues of a screw and ...
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5answers
193 views

Metaphorical use of “patricide”

In Swedish, the word for patricide (fadermord) is commonly used in a metaphorical sense for the act of the disciple, usually publicly, turning on their teacher or benefactor (which may be a person or ...
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Is it suitable to use “trump card” in scientific papers?

Suppose you improved an old method with a novel technique. Is it OK to say that it (your technique) is your trump card in paper? If not, what is your suggestion?
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Is the “Beltway Stop" a popular metaphor meaning a concurrence of events or things?

I'm interested in the phrase, “Beltway Stop in the Oscar Race” which is the title of an article appearing in December 21 New York Times. It comments on the concurrence of movies focused on the ...
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6answers
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The difference between an analogy and a metaphor?

Many a time I've asked what the difference is between an analogy and a metaphor. I've asked it to my teacher, on internet sites, to my parents, so on and so forth. I got a different answer every time, ...
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596 views

Is there a term for metaphors built upon double entendres?

I was thinking deeply about figurative language today, and I read a sentence that must be an example of a specific type of figurative language, but I didn't remember learning about it and couldn't ...
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Meaning of “95 percent Kabuki theater”

I assume conference goers are not usually performing Kabuki, so please explain this metaphor from The New York Times: [the financial conference at] Bretton Woods was itself 95 percent Kabuki ...
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Is 'entrance ticket' used metaphorically?

I want to say something about parenthood being constructed in our culture as the thing that allows one to enter adult society. Could I say parenthood is an entrance ticket to adult society? Would a ...
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How popular are the terms “software” and “hardware” outside the computer world?

If I’m not mistaken, the terms software and hardware were ordinary English words, but they have been widely popularized by popularity of computers. How much they are common (and acceptable by native ...
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What does “Sautéed” mean in “Someone who has not sautéed in a subject”?

Maureen Dowd article titled, “Neocons Slither Back” in September 15 New York Times begins with the following sentence: “Paul Ryan has not sautéed in foreign policy in his years on Capitol Hill. ...